Back on Route
It has been over two weeks since we left Calgary again and I already feel at a loss for words. In the short time since the accident and heading out we have already experienced so much. We have been pushed continually, been immersed in the most remarkable landscapes, met unbelievably generous people, and are learning more every single day.
Exactly two weeks after my accident, Brandon and I decided to head out again, starting from the top of the hill that I had crashed on. Getting back on the dirt road and looking ahead, I felt nervous, but was quickly overcome with a sense of peace feeling excitement and anticipation to be back on the road.
As we made our way along the foresty trunk road we were spoiled with sunny days, breathtaking views, wild places to camp, and long winding downhills that made us feel like we were flying. We were also subjected to gruelling hill climbs, harsh prevailing winds, freezing nights, and quick changes in the weather leading to rain, hail, and snow. Being on the backroads, Brandon immediately pointed out my talent of being covered in the most amount of mud possible.
From the trunk road, we headed into the tiny hamlet of Robb where we splurged on burgers at the little restaurant/pub/hotel/liquor/grocery store. We tossed around the idea of stopping at the pub, as we are sticking to a rather meager daily travel budget to sustain our travels, but we've learnt pretty damn fast just how big of an appetite you get biking long distances everyday.
After Robb, we continued along an old range road towards Hinton. Once we arrived into town we took it easy, giving ourselves a chance to plan our following days, stock up on food and to do some maintenance on the bikes. The following day we pushed further into the mountains to reach Miette Hot Springs, and to our much anticipated first shower, 8 days later. From Miette, we continued to Jasper where we were able to reconnect with a few old friends, pitch a tent in their yard and catch up over some beers.
The next day we were stoked to get into British Columbia, passing Mount Robson (the Rockies highest peak), and continuing further into the Robson Valley. The days had continued to reach high temperatures and it was taking its toll, as we passed along the beginning of a fierce forest fire. We were no more than 30 feet away from intensely growing flames. Riding directly under a roof of black smoke and trying to navigate around the hot, falling ash and sparks absolutely terrified me. Normally I wouldn't be as excited for a huge rainstorm in the tent, but thankfully the rain was relentless that night.
We then passed through Dunster, BC where we made it to the general store within five minutes of closing to resupply for the road. From Dunster we continued to McBride and further to the incredible Chun T’oh Whudujut Ancient Forest where trees over 2000 years old mark their territory. After the Ancient Forest back tracked to Dome Creek with a bit of a gamble up ahead. We knew there were gorgeous back roads up along the Fraser River to Prince George but had no idea of their condition or if they even connected.
Once we made it to Dome Creek we were informed that there was in fact an old railway road, but it was completely overgrown, having not been used since the 60's. Knowing it would later connect to incredible backroads off the main highway, we thought the hell with it and went forward. This meant walking our bikes 18 kilometres over railway tracks in + 30 degrees in what we were told was "essential rifle carrying" bear country (we saw 27 bears on the tracks).
Pushing our bikes through the tracks was completely and utterly mentally exhausting, but once we finally came out on the other side, we were granted the most incredible riding and greeted by the generous people of Penny (population 10). We soon met Don, who invited us into his cabin for ice cold apple juice. After sharing stories and seeing his homestead we hit the road again only to be stopped by another local pulling out an ice cold beer for us. From Penny we followed the gorgeous backroads into Willow River and rode to Prince George. Now in PG, we are spending the next day with the warmest welcoming and raddest WarmShowers hosts while we rest and plan for the road ahead.
We can't wait to see where the road will continue to take us.
Things we’ve learnt on the road so far:
- Taking the ‘road less travelled’ entails having both you and your bicycle covered in mud, not knowing what lies ahead, and usually a little (or a lot) of suffering along the way. Highway cycling may be efficient but it takes away from some incredible back road riding and the feeling of solitude found in natural wild places.
- A cyclists' appetite has no end (chocolate has become a daily necessity).
- The kindness and generosity of complete strangers and good friends will continue to blow our mind.